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A tribute to...

Martin Nolan

Published: Tue 28th Jun 2022

Bell Post Hill resident Martin Nolan, who died at age 81, pictured with wife and “soulmate” Glenyce.
Bell Post Hill resident Martin Nolan, who died at age 81, pictured with wife and “soulmate” Glenyce.

Bell Post Hill resident Martin Nolan, who died at age 81, was farewelled at a service hosted by Kings Funerals and attended by more than 80 family and friends.

His son Paul Nolan paid tribute to his dad, who taught him to "always give time to others, no matter their age, creed, or personal situation" and "enriched every soul and life that he came into contact with."

With the family's permission, we share his moving eulogy.

On behalf of my mum, Glenyce, sister Kathy and brothers John, David and myself, I would like to welcome you all here today to help us all grieve, mourn, remember and most importantly, celebrate, the amazing life of our husband and father - Martin Desmond Nolan

Today we say goodbye to the youngest child of Bill and Stella Nolan, second generation farmers, formerly of Meredith. We will all long remember their son Marty as a man who enriched every soul and life that he came into contact with. He left a lasting impression - every time.

But those of us who loved him most, and ache with his passing, knew Marty by the other titles he held: Husband, Father, Brother, Uncle Mart, Pa, or as he was also referred to, MD, the Colonel and above all, a friend - a true mate

Marty was the baby of the family who became in time its patriarch. He was, according to his sisters, a bit of a sook as kid - being the afterthought and much younger than his siblings. He bore the brunt of his brothers and sisters' teasing, but learned quickly how to brush it off.

Bell Post Hill resident Martin Nolan, with wife Glenyce. Martin died in December 2021, at the age of 81. His son Paul delivered the eulogy at his funeral, hosted by Kings Funerals.
Bell Post Hill resident Martin Nolan, with wife Glenyce. Martin died in December 2021, at the age of 81. His son Paul delivered the eulogy at his funeral, hosted by Kings Funerals.

All the Nolan kids excelled at sports. Brother Pat - everything, particularly footy and sisters Mary, Nellie and Lucy all A-grade tennis players and low handicap golfers. Brother Michael was a great runner - mainly from the law and he must have been good as he was never caught.

Marty tried to join in with his older siblings, but was never allowed being "too little". So when he had the chance, he would sneak one of his sisters' racquets when they were out and hit for hours against the garage door on the ironstone gravel driveway, trying to show he could play and be allowed to join in. He was always sure to put the racquet back before they arrived home. He did get caught out though, as over time he hit the ball so hard that he put huge holes in the garage door - grandpa was not impressed - nor his sisters for using their racquets.

He loved his sisters and as my hardworking grandparents, Bill and Stella, were busy running the farm, Dad said that it was his older sister, Mary (Lou-Lou) who raised him and had the biggest influence over him as a young boy.

Off to boarding school

In those early years on the farm out at Cargerie, Marty spent countless hours with his cousins down the road. John (Jack), Peter and James.

John and dad were really close and shared a lifetime of amazing memories, achievements and in particular gave each other, in some of the most difficult of times, unfaltering and unconditional support. It was a friendship that lasted their entire lives.

My grandfather did not believe in sport, he thought it frivolous and a waste of time. Maybe because he was no good at anything except shearing and shooting. Marty was shipped off to boarding school at St Pat's in Ballarat when he was 12, following in his brothers' footsteps.

Schooling was never dad's strong suit, though he was very clever - maths and English were his strong suits - but it was his exposure to sport, sport and more sport that he really enjoyed the most.

He was very mindful back in the 50's of the Christian Brothers' "carrot and the stick" approach to schooling - mostly without the "carrot" - that he endured. But, as he soon formed a reputation as a very good tennis player and footballer, all was forgiven for his lack of application to Latin studies. He was soon known as Marty Nolan - that boy from Meredith who can play tennis.

Marty became the youngest boy to ever make the St Pat's 1st IV tennis team, aged 14. A record that still stands today.

Dad headed back to the farm to work alongside Grandpa at the end of Form 3, as his older sisters and brothers had all married and left the farm. They were hard days for dad. Grandpa was a hard taskmaster, but it was his amazing work ethic that Dad picked up on and it was a trait that would stay with him forever.

Life-changing decision

Dad had the tennis bug, but as Grandpa didn't believe in sport ("a waste of time") Marty had to finds his own way to Ballarat to play competition. This meant as a 15-16-year-old he was driving himself to Ballarat to play.

It was this decision that would have a huge impact on dad's life.

It was during his playing days for Black Hill in Ballarat that he met a cheeky young bloke by the name of Bob Lazarus.

Bob and Marty struck up an instant friendship. It was a friendship that stood the test of time, endured amazing ups and the unforeseen downs, and also the banning of catching up together by their wives as they were "sick of all the trouble" that they usually found themselves in.

Bell Post Hill resident Martin Nolan, with wife Glenyce. Martin died in December 2021, at the age of 81. His son Paul delivered the eulogy at his funeral, hosted by Kings Funerals. Martin Nolan was a tennis enthusiast and played for the Black Hill Tennis Club in his early years.
Bell Post Hill resident Martin Nolan, with wife Glenyce. Martin died in December 2021, at the age of 81. His son Paul delivered the eulogy at his funeral, hosted by Kings Funerals. Martin Nolan was a tennis enthusiast and played for the Black Hill Tennis Club in his early years.

It was through the Black Hill tennis club that Marty not only met Bob, but also the rest of the notorious gang of mates that would form a lifetime of great friendship and fun. Murray and Joy Dyer, Barry & Barbra Cheatley and Stuart and Eunice Mayo - such a fun-loving group, each one a star!

Bob and Marty were inseparable and it was at Bob's insistence that Marty tagged along on a blind date. The lovely Elaine Day had a friend and Bob needed a wingman.

A blind date

It was certainly not love at first sight for Glenyce Mai Thompson, as Marty, the young skinny boy from Meredith, may have been a bit pissed - just the same, Glenyce thought that he was alright looking, but was a little unsure of the crew-cut haircut he was sporting.

Marty soon straightened himself up, asked Glenyce on a date and after a suitably appropriate courting period, they were married in 1961. It may have not of eventuated to be honest, as Marty as a young bloke was having a good time and, on the night he picked up Glenyce for the date, he may have fallen on top of Grandad Thompson, bringing him to the ground, smelling like the Ballarat Bertie himself.

Mum and Dad bought their first house in Staughton St, Meredith, living there while their house was being built down the road from the family farm.

I came along in 1962 and then as the house was completed the kids all came along in 2-year intervals: Kathy in '64, John in '66 and David in '68.

Marty was now in full partnership with his father, WP Nolan & Son. They forged a great working relationship - most of the time. Dad would crack the shits every now and then when a truck full of livestock would turn up unannounced and Grandpa would vaguely recall having one or 10 too many beers at the saleyards and buying stock without consultation.

Or when Grandpa would take me rabbiting and decide that we needed to burn off grass and just drop a match in the middle of paddock on a 30-degree day. Made Dad real happy

Just the same they were both great mates and worked well together. Dad bought his father out on his retirement and now, with his young and growing family set about working the land his way.

In 1966, Dad contracted type 1 diabetes. It's a debilitating disease that had a massive impact on Dad's health - particularly for one so young.

It never stopped him though. He continued to play quality tennis, winning countless titles all over Victoria. He continued to work hard on the farm and when there was a need to earn extra, he worked for many local farmers in their sheds as a roustabout.

In the mid '70s dad took on a full-time job in Geelong at the Marnock wool scouring plant as their in-house presser. He would start early each day and would press in excess of 100 bales of wool a day - never before or since has anyone been able to have such an output. This workload was compacted by the running of the farm of an evening and over the weekends. I recall coming home from boarding school each weekend, attempting to do some homework on Friday night (not) and then working alongside dad over the weekend. It's a time, I look back on and cherish greatly.

Starting a business

Due to ill health (Dad had already has a couple of heart issues by the time he was 35) Mum and Dad sold the farm and moved to Geelong in 1980, to Neil Street, Bell Post Hill.

Dad, along with 150 other applicants, applied for a job at Western Heights High School as a cleaner and groundsman. He got the job and from that moment onward began a career in an industry that he would excel at.

With the demise of the government-funded school cleaners, Marty, along with Alan Woodburgess and George Willoughby, formed AGM Cleaning. A successful business that spanned over 20 years and saw them win cleaning contracts for many of the region's premier establishments and schools.

Martin grew up on a farm in Cargerie, near Meredith, and boarded at St Patrick's College in Ballarat.
Martin grew up on a farm in Cargerie, near Meredith, and boarded at St Patrick's College in Ballarat.

It was only three weeks back that dad closed the books on AGM with great pride and satisfaction for the amazing achievements of three ordinary, hardworking blokes.

Dad was proud of all his achievements and whatever the task or job, he attacked it with great vigour, particularly in later years with his involvement with the Corio Rotary Club.

Marty's greatest love, his soulmate, was the love of his life, our Mum, Glenyce.

Married for 60 years, mum and dad were inseparable. It is a great inspiration to me how deeply he loved this girl from Ballarat, with a true and deep affection. As Dad would often acknowledge, he was buggered without her. She gave him strength and purpose; joy and friendship; and stood by him always, not only in the greatest of days but especially in the hardest days.

Life lessons

My dad, my mate, taught me and influenced me so much - I owe him everything that I am today.

  • He taught me to give respect to all people.
  • He taught me how to always give time to others, no matter their age, creed or personal situation.
  • The day the new tractor took off down the hill into the creek, after he forgot to put the hand-brake on, he taught me a whole new vocabulary - words I had never heard before - and have never forgotten.
  • He taught me to fair play.
  • He taught me to work hard and to do whatever it takes to provide for your family. Dad did this all through action, example and deeds, something that I hope that I have been able to also do for my children by following his amazing example

We cannot know for certain how long we have here. We cannot foresee the trials or misfortunes that will test us along the way. We cannot know God's plan for us.

What we can do is to live out our lives as best we can with purpose, and love, and joy. We can use each day to show those who are closest to us how much we care about them, and treat others with the kindness and respect that we wish for ourselves. We can learn from our mistakes and grow from our failures. And we can strive at all costs to make a better world, so that someday, if we are blessed with the chance to look back on our time here, we can know that we spent it well; that we made a difference; that our fleeting presence had a lasting impact on the lives of other people

This is how Marty lived.

Martin's legacy

The material things that we leave behind are soon gone, spent or just plain lost - the materialistic things that we leave behind certainly do not define our being or our legacy

Paul Desmond, Kathryn Ann, John William, David Michael, Loretta Anne, Kieran Desmond, Rory Patrick, Darcy William, Joshua, Hudson, Stella and now young Jack Patrick - first great grandchild with two more not far behind - you are the amazing legacy that Marty has left us with - a legacy that will continue to grow and a legacy that Dad was so very proud of.

Because of you all, Martin Desmond Nolan will live on.

Before I finish, I would like to, on behalf of the family, thank those who meant so much to Dad and Mum over the past years

  • The Willoughby and Woodburgess families - George and Alan were both dear friends and his business partners in AGM.
  • Ben, Marty's right-hand man at AGM. Dad could not have done what he did over the past years without you by his side - he valued the friendship greatly.
  • Mr David McClure, Dr Michael Carroll, Dr Kathryn McGregor and the amazing staff at SJOG - thank you all for your wonderful care of Dad and the friendships that you forged with him.

In closing, Barry Cheatley rang me the other day and said that every time he spent time in Dad's company he left feeling happy - that Marty exuded happiness and always made you feel good and special.

People will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel

- Maya Angelou.

Originally published as Son pays tribute to dad who made a difference


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